This post has been updated for 2019.

Responsive web design has dominated websites for the past few years, transforming the way businesses build their online presence. A website with responsive web design is a site that is able to adapt the screen it is being used on, regardless of what device it is. The website automatically reformats to give the user a better experience, that is well suited to their device, and can give your site a number of benefits as well as being in line with Google recommendations.

Responsive web design was introduced back in 2010 and recommended from 2015 onwards, but there have been many other updates to web design since that are also of great importance.

The need for responsive web design

In the past few years, the use of smartphones has grown rapidly. In 2014, only 22% turned to their phone first to browse the internet. Only 2/3rds of people even owned a smartphone. Since then, the roll-out of 4G internet and other innovations impacted the way people used mobile devices; throughout 2014, 4G subscriptions skyrocketed from 2.7 million to 23.6 million.

By the end of 2016, mobile web usage had overtaken desktop for the first time, which just goes to show how many people browse on smartphones and tablets instead of a laptop or desktop computer. This highlighted a dramatic shift in behaviour; with the UK using their mobile devices to shop online, carry out online banking and scroll through social media. Ofcom reported at the time, that 7 in 10 adults use a smartphone, with over-65s now more likely to use one too, as the public becomes even more tech-savvy.

For these reasons alone, it became hugely important to invest in responsive web design ; your business needs a website that works well on a smartphone or other mobile device screens, due to the sheer amount of people who could be using your website through a smartphone or tablet.

Google’s recommendations

Google introduced recommendations in 2015 that related to responsive web design, and began rewarding sites that were fully optimised for mobile platforms. Google began using mobile friendliness as a ranking signal in search results. Businesses began to take note of its importance since that announcement, but now Google has moved on to even bigger heights.

More recently, Google has gone a step further and has been implementing mobile-first indexing strategies. Mobile-first indexing bases ranking and indexing from the mobile version of a site, as opposed to the desktop version. If you already have a responsive web design, then you won’t need to modify your websites. This is the most recent effort by Google to further improve mobile web experience.

As of 2018, Google announced that they were migrating sites that followed best practice in mobile-first indexing. In the past, Google crawled and indexed the desktop version of a website, but they began to notice that this caused problems for mobile users. Mobile-first indexing means that Google now primarily crawl, index and rank the mobile version of the website. Due to this, it’s more important than ever that you not only have a responsive web design, but also a solid mobile design of your website too.

Benefits and importance of responsive web design

With responsive web design, all content and pages are flexible across all screen resolutions and devices. Whether you’re viewing a website on your smartphone or a laptop, it will be unified and easy to navigate despite the differing screen sizes. Providing an optimal experience for the user across the board, responsive web design means your user can read and navigate the site with minimum resizing and scrolling.

Responsive web design can improve user experience which will translate into a positive perception of your brand and business. If your customer can access your website easily on all platforms, they’re more likely to return to you for more business in the future and it more than likely means a higher conversion rate for your website. In a world where so much traffic comes from mobile devices, it’s important that you’re accommodating this factor through your website.

Responsive web design, and mobile-first indexing, is now also important as a ranking factor, as mentioned earlier. Sites that are responsive will generally load faster which is likely to boost your ranking and decrease your bounce rate. Responsive web design can also make social sharing easier, helping you to grow a bigger audience for your brand.

SEO campaigns and website maintenance are also a much smoother process with a mobile friendly website. Responsive web design means you only have 1 website to look after; it’s also quicker and less expensive than making a stand-alone mobile application in addition to your desktop website.

With mobile-friendly websites now being an industry standard, especially thanks to mobile-first indexing, take a minute to ensure your web design is the best it can be.

Get in touch with us today to find out more about making sure your website design is spot on!

Over the course of my time with Digital Next, there has been a lot of talk about Black Friday. It has become apparent just how important it is for businesses to prepare for the event. With Digital Next already discussing the many ways in which businesses can benefit from this, it just goes to show that preparation should be well underway.

– Ella Worthington BA (Hons)

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On 23rd November, Black Friday will hit the stores once again. With preparation for the biggest shopping event of the year in full swing, it is important for your business to have a digital marketing strategy put in place.

 

WHAT IS BLACK FRIDAY?

Over the years, Black Friday has become one of the biggest shopping events of the year. Although it originated in the US, the UK have caught on with most UK retailers now taking part. During this time period, retailers offer huge discounts on a wide variety of products in order to persuade consumers to spend as much money as they can.

Each year this shopping-fest seems to get bigger and bigger with consumers spending incredible amounts of money. After all, everyone loves a bargain.

 
As a consequence of this, the UK event has become increasingly focused around the online, making it easier for consumers to compare prices and products in the comfort of their own home. We can see this as internet sales now account for 17% of the retail sector.

 

WHY YOU NEED TO PREPARE

It’s more important than ever for businesses to prepare themselves as online shopping plays a huge role in Black Friday’s mania, with a whopping £1.4 billion being spent in 2017. Large retailers have admitted to preparing up to 12 months in advance.

Black Friday Preparation

As a consequence of this, Black Friday can leave a lasting effect on a business throughout the rest of the year. When a customer visits an online site and has a positive experience, they are likely to return, increasing a business’s audience. This just goes to show how it’s essential for businesses to approach Black Friday with a well thought-out strategy, which takes months of planning and organising.

Retailers see Black Friday as a critical chance to boost their market share, as we see many shops gaining their biggest profits of the year during Black Friday. This just goes to show that as there is so much online traffic throughout this time period, businesses need to make the most out of it.

Here are a few of the many ways in which we can help you prepare for Black Friday:

 

WEB DESIGN AND EXPERIENCE

Having a site that is reliable and easy to use is a major factor to look at due to the influx of traffic on Black Friday. When it was first popularised, websites crashed under the weight of the traffic as consumers rushed to bag the best deals possible. Having the preparation in place means that your website won’t be crashing, thus not losing any business.

There has been a shift recently as mobile devices were used to make 36% of online sales last year, generating more than a billion pounds. Therefore, mobile user experience is just as important as web user experience.

 

EMAIL MARKETING

Although consumers are constantly bombarded with emails from retailers persuading them to take advantage of their latest promotions, Black Friday is a time where they are paying close attention to the sales being sent directly to their inbox. As email drove 18.1% of online sales last year, email marketing is one of the key components to getting the word out there.

black friday sale

 

SOCIAL MEDIA

Social media is one of the biggest driving forces for Black Friday offers. It is important in building hype leading up to Black Friday, giving social media followers a glimpse of the upcoming sales. This encourages consumers to plan their shopping strategy whilst putting your business at the top of their list.

black friday social media

It is important to utilise all social media platforms when thinking about Black Friday as this allows businesses to reach a larger number of audiences.

 

SUMMARY

Black Friday 2018 is right around the corner, so why not save yourself the stress and start preparing now. If you think our services may be useful for you and your business, get in touch today.

 

Last week Google announced that their popular web browser, Google Chrome, will display warnings to users who access non-HTTPS sites by strongly advocating that all websites adopt HTTPS encryption. Although all sites should be secure and run on HTTPS by default, there are still a proportion of sites that have yet to make the switch, which is why Google will now side with those that have taken the necessary steps in securing their site, rather than those that haven’t. But before we drilldown into these latest updates to Chrome, let’s first revisit what HTTPS is and why you need to run your site over its protocol.

What is HTTPS?

If you’re sat there thinking what is HTTPS, then there’s probably no better time than now to try to gain more of an understanding. Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure is essentially a secure version of HTTP, which is the protocol used to send and receive data between your web browser and the website you’re attempting to access. The fundamental difference between the secure version and the not secure version is that, when secure, all connections between browser and website are encrypted to protect the sending/receiving of sensitive data. As such, this heightened security reduces the chances of being a victim of cyber attacks where known web vulnerabilities can be exploited.

Why do you need HTTPS?

Alongside the fact that HTTPS ensures that your entire site is protected and far less susceptible to web vulnerability exploits – which is particularly relevant to those handling customer’s personal data – Google’s search engine actually favours secure sites over non-secure, simply because they’re ensuring that their users can browse their site in a safe and secure environment. As such, sites that run on HTTPS will generally feature higher up the search results for relevant search terms, than non-secure sites. Google have been actively encouraging webmasters to switch to HTTPS for the past couple of years as we navigate towards a more secure web, but last year’s progression was seen as a big step in the right direction with:

  • Over 68% of Chrome traffic on Android and Windows now protected
  • Over 78% of Chrome traffic on both Chrome OS and Mac now protected
  • 81 of the top 100 sites on the web using HTTPS by default

So, what’s changing in Chrome?

Whilst making the switch to HTTPS is no new initiative and Google’s core algorithm is known to already favour secure sites over non-secure, new changes to Google Chrome have been rolled out to identify all sites that have yet to migrate to HTTPS as “Not Secure” as shown in the below image.

Currently, Google Chrome identifies all sites that run on HTTPS as “Secure” with a green lock icon to indicate that the page you’re visiting is a secure page that’s encrypted and protected from cyber attacks. However, Google’s latest update (Chrome 68) is the first change that’s been initiated to identify all sites that are “Not secure”, which means that essentially all sites accessed through Google Chrome will be displayed as either “Secure” or “Not Secure”.

Google’s next planned alteration is scheduled for September 2018 in an update named Chrome 69, which will see them remove the green lock and label in the search bar and assume that all sites run on HTTPS as shown in the above image. As per the previous update (Chrome 68), all non-HTTPS sites will be identified with the “Not Secure” label.

Put simply, rather than assuming that a site is not secure – unless indicated with the lock and label – users can now assume that a site is secure, unless otherwise indicated by the “Not Secure” label.

Summary

Making the switch to HTTPS should be high up on your priority list if you own a website or online business and have yet to secure your website. As such, there is no better time than now so it’s advisable to take the necessary measures to find out whether your site is secure or not and better your understanding of what this means. Should you have any questions or queries as to how to make the switch to HTTPS or why you need to, then why not get in touch with us today to see how we can help to secure your site today to safeguard your website’s future.

The internet and search engines are in a constant state of flux, so it’s important to perform a website audit regularly to ensure you are not missing out on sources of valuable, targeted traffic and conversions. Even if your website is performing well at this moment, in six months’ time SEO dynamics may have changed and you could be experiencing a fall in visitors and drop in search engine rankings. Performing regular website audits helps to maintain continued increases to leads and visitors which in turn will improve bottom line revenues and profits.

Benefits of website audits

Making sure your website is working to its optimum, website audits can help to identify key areas for improvement. Ensuring everything on your website is as fresh as can be, you can identify problems and fix them quickly before it has any negative impact on your business.

By providing you with a report following your website audit, the team here at Digital Next are able to analyse the different ways your website performs in search engines in order to give suggestions and curate strategies to increase rankings and identify valuable opportunities for your business to thrive online.
A website audit can improve both current and prospective SEO strategies in many different ways. Providing details on the impact that current SEO campaigns have had on your site, website audits can make sure we’re not missing anything. Offering competitor analysis to take advantage of weaknesses in your industry, website audits can give you the latest information to help you fix and avoid potential penalties from the likes of Google.

Giving you feedback on website performance and user experience, it gives us the chance to make positive changes to your website which will hopefully result in even more conversions.

Full technical audits

You should also expect your website audit to include a technical audit to ensure all coding is correct and that the site runs to maximum speed levels. An off-site review will highlight levels of authority and trust attained by your website via analysis of anchor texts and backlinks, while a social media audit of your website looks at your business visibility and reviews all current engagement.
It takes time to improve results for any website, but a rigorous SEO audit of your site helps identify all the areas in which you need to improve to achieve greater success online. As soon as you begin to implement changes to your SEO suggested by a website audit you should see organic traffic increases, conversion rate improvements and revenue growth.
These enhancements to your SEO will continue to keep your website working to optimum levels and generating improved revenues to help your business grow.

Here at Digital Next we can provide professional website audits for all types of business clients. Contact us to learn more about our SEO services.

After a few years in which they released a seemingly never-ending slew of changes to their search algorithm and results, Google has made most of its changes under the radar in recent months. One significant exception has been the rollout of the mobile-first index. Unlike previous changes, which Google only announced when they were rolling out, the company has been very cautious about the latest mobile-first index update.

It was first announced over a year ago and the rollout, which took over a year to start, is still in a very early stage. Nevertheless, mobile-first indexing is a key indicator of the way that Google will be moving in the coming years. Here we’ll take a look at what it means and how you can make sure that your website is ready for any upcoming changes.

What is mobile-first indexing?

To put it simply, Google wants to make sure that the websites it returns in its search results work across a wide variety of devices. In short, this means that the pages on the website should have a responsive web design that scales naturally to any size of screen, whether that screen is on a desktop, tablet or mobile device. Websites that don’t scale naturally or redirect customers on mobile devices to a specific mobile version of the website will receive a small ranking penalty. This won’t push them out of the rankings altogether, but will ensure they appear below other websites that are responsive. It is likely that the weight of this penalty will increase over the coming years as mobile-first indexing continues to be rolled out.

How to make sure your website is ready

If your website isn’t mobile responsive, then it may require quite a major overhaul in order to prepare it. One short-term stopgap solution is to use Accelerated Mobile Pages, a format that is favoured by Google, to show information to mobile visitors until your new website is ready. This is not a permanent solution but should help to protect your rankings until you get something more robust ready.

Having a mobile responsive website is a great investment that will almost certainly pay dividends in the long-run. While mobile-first indexing is a great reason to make sure your site is up to scratch, you will also enjoy a lower bounce rate and higher customer satisfaction since your site will work better and be easier for your customers to browse.

If you want to make sure that your website is ready for these upcoming changes, get in touch with us today and see what we can do for you.

Within the last year, we have been busy switching websites that use Contact Form 7 & Contact Form 7 DB to Gravity Forms in all of our WordPress websites. While Contact Form 7 is a great plugin, news has emerged that there will be no further updates to its complementary extension Contact Form 7 DB. We’ve seen this decision has caused a few issues across certain websites. As such, here are just a few of the issues we’ve observed and reasons why we’ve decided to make the switch to Gravity Forms from Contact Form 7:

Lost Data & Leads

When exploring some of the issues that have been reported to us, we have noticed that some of the problems with Contact Form 7 DB pertain to the loss of data with no option to be able to retrieve it. Upon further inspection, we have discovered that the Contact Form 7 DB extension (that collates and stores data submitted through the Contact Form 7 plugin) will no longer be updated and is scheduled to be discontinued. This means that any users currently using both the Contact Form 7 and Contact Form 7 DB extension should either look to find a different extension that’s compatible with the plugin, or make the switch to Gravity Forms.

Extensive Features & Integrations

Gravity Forms plugin offer far more features, integrations and better functionality. This means you have a lot more freedom and options, than if you were using Contact Form 7. Each form can have its own unique settings, meaning you can control each form’s appearance separately. Gravity Forms also allows you to set a period of time you want the form to be active for, and you can even limit the amount of submissions it can accept too. These are just a few of the extensive features that Gravity Forms offer, but we’ve found that it’s far easier to use and configure than Contact Form 7.

Simplicity & Ease

In short, it’s really easy to create new forms and feature them on the front-end of your website. It doesn’t matter if you are building a standard contact form, or even one more complex, the whole process is very straightforward and you shouldn’t experience too much difficulty setting them up.

Post Submissions

Finally, with Gravity Forms, you can go above and beyond the remit of a general contact form. As an example, within Gravity Forms there’s a tool that enables users to submit certain types of posts directly to your site. This functionality would be especially ideal for job hunters that are applying for jobs via your website, or for a media based company that receives content from an array of different distributors.

These are just a few of the many reasons we have switched from Contact Form 7 to Gravity forms. In summary, Gravity forms offer far more flexibility, are more reliable and are extremely easy to use, so making the switch shouldn’t be too difficult of a job. However, if you’re struggling to make sense of it or you’re just needing a bit of a helping hand, why not get in touch to see how we can help you make the switch in 2018!

Magento 2, the highly popular ecommerce platform, has recently released its latest version, Magento 2.2, which brings forth a number of great new features to improve the overall experiences of webstore owners and their customers.

While Magento 2 was initially released back in 2015 as a beta version, there have been a couple of updates released since that have helped to improve functionality and user experience. Following the latest release, Magento users are being urged to migrate their online stores to the updated platform in order to offer a more stable and secure ecommerce environment to run their business. As such, here we take a look at the transition from Magento 1.X to 2.0 to 2.2 to see what all the fuss is about!

Magento

With over 200,000 online stores live on the Internet, Magento accounts for around 29% of the ecommerce market with WordPress’ WooCommerce plugin following closely behind with around 26% of the marker share. Consequently, it should come as no surprise to find that Magento is hugely popular for business owners that sell products online.

In large part, this is due to the advanced out-of-the-box features and capabilities that Magento possesses, as its powerful platform allows for seamless store management and the ability to house thousands of products without compromising on performance. However, given that the Magento platform is almost 10 years old, there are certain aspects that have become outdated over the years which have been resolved in scheduled updates to the core platform. However, updates can only do so much, and after 7 years Magento released the much-awaited 2.0 to revolutionise the online shopping experience.

Magento 2.0

Magento 2.0 is the latest full version of the leading enterprise-level ecommerce platform that’s been overhauled to offer the most user-friendly and scalable solution available. Having taken years to develop and deploy, the Magento team have stripped down and rebuilt the entire system from scratch in order to develop a more dedicated platform for B2C/B2B online sellers. So what are the main features of Magento 2.0?

  • Open & Flexible Architecture – Easier customisation, extensive API integrations and extensions.
  • Engaging Shopping Experiences – All-new checkout that improves conversion rates and customer experiences.
  • Enhanced Business Agility & Productivity – Seamless management and simple user adoption with its intuitive interface and business tools.
  • Scalability & Performance – 50% faster page load times for better experiences and conversion rates, with support for more concurrent updates.
  • Secure Payments – Improved security with out-of-the-box integrations with PayPal, Braintree, Authorize.net, WorldPay and CyberSource.
  • Easier Maintenance & Upgrades – Upgrades and site maintenance is easier than ever for a more future-proof investment.

In the main, Magento 2’s improved performance and host of new features aim to boost conversion rates and business agility, whilst offering unmatched flexibility and customisation options with its open source setup. However, while Magento 2 is a superb advancement on its predecessor, it’s still far from the finished article and newer versions are being rolled out periodically with further improvements and bug fixes.

Magento 2.2

Since the new functionalities and features of Magento 2.2 were presented in a webinar back in June 2017 before being released the following September, many online storeowners have been busy migrating their websites from Magento 1 to Magento 2 as a natural progression to a newer version. Not only that, but running your online store on the most recent updated version of Magento will ensure system security is at its highest and reduce the susceptibility of cyber attacks via known vulnerability exploits. However, once a website has migrated onto Magento 2, it will need to be updated to the new 2.2 version to benefit from the long list of new features available. Far more weighted towards B2B Commerce, Magento 2.2’s new features include the following:

B2B Functionality

  • Company Account Management – B2B merchants can support clients’ accounts in multiple organisational structures and corporate buyers can use self-service tools for account management without a merchant.
  • Quote Engine – Convert a cart to a quote with consummate ease without the need2 to send an order, so the merchant can respond with prices and comments.
  • Credit Purchases for B2B – Credit purchases are now available as a payment option, with adjustable credit control for merchants working with multiple companies.
  • Customisable Catalogues & Prices – Merchants can customise the products, categories and price lists to show different information for different companies.
  • Updated API for simple ERP integrations – Web APIs are available for all new features with a bulk Tier Price API enabling merchants to update large quantities of product prices quickly.

Development Tools

  • Performance Toolkit – Profiles update, faster generation, support for B2B entities and much more.
  • Minimised Core Around Plugins – Makes debugging plugins on the core far easier since less clicks will go through the various flows.
  • Improved Deployment Flow – Configurations can be exported through different environments, with product environments being upgraded in less than 1 minute.

Security Updates

  • Unserialize() Calls Removed – Unserialize() calls have been removed completely except in critical performance code, in order to prevent security vulnerability issues.
  • Upgraded Hashing Algorithm – To increase security for sensitive values.

Other Features

  • Extended Reports – An advanced reporting module provides comprehensive reports with valuable data stored in graphs to illustrate performance.
  • Advanced Fraud Protection – A new integration with Signifyd will provide the opportunity to identify and reject roguish orders with 100% chargeback protection.
  • Improved Indexing – Customers are able to browse and buy in the store while indexing.
  • Technical Stack Updates – Support for PHP 5.6 and Varnish 3 has been dropped, with PHP 7.1, MySQL 5.7, Redis 3.2 and Varnish 5 support will be added with “Grace” and “Saint” by default.

One of the major challenges faced by B2B businesses is converting visitors into customers online, and this is what Magento 2.2 aims to eliminate. By offering a user-friendly method of transforming traditional (offline) businesses into online businesses, Magento 2.2 is now the perfect platform to house and grow both B2B and B2C websites. With a host of new features and improved all-round performance, there’s never been a better time to make the switch to Magento 2.2.

With Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Christmas all on the horizon, it’s important that both your business and your website are ready for the busiest period of the year. It’s also crucial that your website is functional all year round, as adverts and other seasonal trends can provide spikes in sales and traffic. Your online marketing must be spot on if you want to make a difference to your sales and traffic.

The Bank of England revealed that a typical household spends around £2000 a month. However, in the run up to Christmas the same household will spend £500 more in the month of December, and it’s not just on presents. We eat out more and drink more too; well, it is the season to be merry after all! On top of that, in 2016, the UK spent a huge £1.23bn on Black Friday. Suddenly, the pressure mounts on having a website and an online marketing strategy that performs to its optimum.

As Black Friday has expanded to include Cyber Monday, some retailers are also offering deals in the run-up and aftermath of the huge sale events too. This means your business will experience busier and busier periods each year. So, how do you make sure you can handle the influx of extra customers in your busy periods?

Increasing conversions

It’s no use driving people to your website and increasing traffic if they aren’t converting. The customer journey can sometimes be a long one, and you’ve got to keep them interested until they have made it to their basket and paid. In other words, customers can drop off your site at a number of different points, so it’s in your interest to make sure it’s a seamless and easy path from browsing to buying.

Even the smallest tweaks to your website and online marketing can result in a higher conversion rate, which is perfect if you’re building up to a busy period. One of the key places to start is your mobile website.

Two-thirds of mobile users prefer a website to using an app, so making sure your website is mobile friendly is no longer a recommendation; it’s mandatory. Go a step further than just making sure your website has a responsive design by improving your mobile-specific SEO. This refers to things like localised search and device-specific speed optimisation.

Building trust

The public are becoming more savvy when it comes to online shopping and making a decision on a retailer. With this in mind, you should be doing everything you can to reassure your visitors that you are legitimate and trustworthy; it’s too easy for them to drop off your site and head straight to a competitor if they see something they aren’t sure of.

You can measure so many different metrics on your website to see performance, but trust isn’t one of them. Make sure your website has things like an ‘About Us’ page, links to your social media accounts and customer testimonials. This can prove to your customers that you are what you claim to be.

online marketing

A personalised experience

Personalising your service now goes further than just putting a customers’ name in the subject line of an email. As the capabilities of AI increase, your ecommerce store has a better chance of predicting your customers’ next steps and making it easier for them to take it.

Knowing your shoppers’ habits through online marketing metrics can mean you’re able to predict what they’re thinking of putting in their basket and putting the perfect products right in front of them. A live chat feature can be critical in giving your website a more personal feel, while using analytics to your advantage can help you to win business where you lost it in the past.

Easy-to-navigate UX

If you’re experiencing a high number of people abandoning their baskets, it can be for a number of different reasons. Most of the time it’s because the navigation on your website is too complicated or too long-winded to get to the right page. Customers are more demanding than ever before, and are looking for a smooth, fast process to get the things they want. User experience throughout the whole website should be seamless. You should also take into consideration stages such as registration and the payment process to ensure they are fine-tuned and faultless. The easier the buying process, the less time the customer has to abandon their basket!

Here at Digital Next, when it comes to web design and development our process is clear. It’s crucial that we understand our client’s businesses and their internal operations, before deploying a bespoke solution to heighten their online performance and presence.

Background about Gorvins

Recently crowned Law Firm of the Year at the City of Manchester Business Awards, Gorvins Solicitors is a regional, full service law firm based in Stockport with roots that can be traced back over 150 years. With 16 partners and over 100 staff, Gorvins specialist legal teams offer an array of legal disciplines to a diverse portfolio of clients from blue chip organisations and SME’s to private individuals and regulatory bodies.

What were Gorvins looking for?

Upon evaluation of Gorvins website requirements, we understood that Gorvins were looking to primarily improve user flow and experience to increase the number of qualified enquiries. Additionally, the new site will be used as a reference point to showcase their services when liaising with potential clients, so by simplifying the website structure Gorvins team are offered full control of day-to-day management. Before progressing, we identified the overall objectives that Gorvins are looking to achieve from their new website:

  • Gorvins brand promotion and lead generation
  • A fresh, clean and fully-responsive design, consistent with current branding
  • Usability improvements for mobile devices
  • Provide a visual representation of all Gorvins social media channels
  • New website platform for multimedia integration and user-friendly management

How did Digital Next help?

As mentioned above, when Gorvins came to us they were looking for an improved look and feel to their current site, with an emphasis on user experience and ability to integrate with all marketing channels. In addition to this, Gorvins were also looking for a user-friendly system that enables their team to manage their website with simplicity and ease. As such, Gorvins new website included the following features and functionality:

  • Advanced Contact Forms – Providing the ability to create forms that store enquiries into a database system allowing more control of the companies inbound data.
  • Newsletter Integration – Enabling customers to sign up to Gorvins regular newsletter which is controlled via a 3rd party supplier with no manual work needed.
  • Live Chat – Offering customers the opportunity to chat to a Gorvins representative through the new website.
  • World Pay Integration – Enabling customers to make payments owed to Gorvins for their legal services.
  • Fully Responsive Website – Offering customers a seamless experience no matter the device.
  • Improved Website Structure and Navigation – To improve the user flow for customers throughout the site and offer ease-of-use to the Gorvins team.
  • SSL Certificate integration – To maximise security and encrypt all data transfers between the website, server and user.

Head of Marketing at Gorvins, Paul Longmire:

“Our website and social media platforms are one of the most important sources of work for Gorvins. We wanted to make our online platforms more accessible to existing and potential clients whilst keeping ahead of the ever-changing digital market.”

Adam Ramsden, Head of Digital at Digital Next, went on to say:

“Working with the Gorvins’ team was a great experience for all involved, and their new website is a far better representation of their brand and expertise. For us, this was by far the best legal project we’ve worked on to date and are really happy with the completed project.”

Support and Maintenance

Gorvins decision making was also looking at a long term digital partner to support their growing digital presence, offering the right support package was key for Gorvins team to know they can lean on us when they need. The support and maintenance package provided to Gorvins will also help to ensure that, should the site ever go down for any reason, we can restore it with minimal downtime.

In addition to this, this support package extends to implementing improvements to key marketing landing pages or features that are geared towards heightening user experience.

Summary

When Gorvins came to us, their old site didn’t truly represent the strides that the company has made since last consulting an agency regarding web design. However, with our help, we’ve been able to deliver a stunning, responsive website with branding that epitomises what Gorvins Solicitors are all about and will help take them to the next level online. Not only that, but with us as their digital partner, they know that we’re by their side throughout their journey and always on hand to guide them on the path to online success!

There are many reason you need to carefully consider how you choose to geo-target your website, and there are different ways of looking at it. From a marketing point of view, we want to know how Google and other crawlers interpret what you are doing and why. In other words, we look at it from a technical point of view. However, when a customer comes to us, they look at it from a user point of view. An issue often arises when a webmaster is presented with restrictions of who you can and can’t sell to, often caused by distributor agreements for products.

There are many ways to geo-target a website, from IP geo-targeting to using HTML mark-ups on a website. While some of it is Google friendly, some of it is very unfriendly; generally, it’s the more forceful methods that can cause the issues.

Getting it wrong can cause very big issues for a website, and not understanding what you have done can make it a lasting issue. Below I have run through some of the areas that need to be considered and some areas that should be completely disregarded.

All websites are different; if geo-targeting is something that you feel you need more help on, then get in touch with our team.

Think of Who You’re Geo-Targeting

If different parts of your website target different countries, then ensure the content and currency is native to the country in question. This sounds like a very basic piece of advice, but people using English content to target foreign speaking countries is very common. Your website will not rank for German search terms in Germany if your content is in English!

If you have a well-optimised UK website and someone in Germany searches for your product in English, then your UK website can rank for that search term.

Below you can see an example map from Analytics that highlights where the users have come from. If you have a large number of visits from a different country, then check it out further and it might be recommended to launch in that country.

geo-targeting your website

What Platform Should I Use?

A question to ask at the very start of a campaign is what platform should be used. If you are an online retailer selling your products online, then Magento would be the only platform I would recommend. The multi-store, multi-national features and out of the box functionality makes it a no-brainer when you are planning a multi-national campaign.

Using Magento gives you the choice of setting up the different countries on different domains, sub domains or sub-folders. Read on the next section for more info on what this means!

If you have a brochure or lead generation website, then Magento isn’t your only option. WordPress does have a little known and little used multi-site function. It’s another option for multi-lingual websites if you are not a retailer.

Separate Domains vs Sub Domains V Sub Folders

The first decision to make when creating a multi-national online presence is how you’re going to manage this. Will there be one central manager that updates and controls all countries? Will each country have their own manager? Do you own the country code domain for each country you want?

Choosing which domain type to use and the recommendations that can be given will depend very much on the product you are selling.

If you are a retailer selling consumable goods or general merchandise, then you would lean more towards the ccTLD (country code top-level domain) structure which gives people trust in a localised website.

If your product is tech based, or consumed digitally, then the user may not favour localised domains because they know that tech and online services can be delivered from any country.

Using ccTLD

A country code top-level domain can work very well in different regions but can often be harder to manager and maintain.  Examples of a ccTLD would be:

  • www.example.co.uk – UK
  • www.example.de – Germany
  • www.example.es – Spain

If you are already an established company that’s expanding, then its not always quite so straight forward to get your exact URL with a different ccTLD, but this isn’t always an issue.

The benefits of using a ccTLD is that it instantly makes the users trust you more, because you have a localised domain. If you are a user in the UK, you can trust a .co.uk domain is for a local company and this is a factor that can go a long way.

ccTLD is also a good option if each territory is controlled and managed separately. If you are using multi-store technology then it can work from a central location.

shutterstock_73476589

Sub Domain

To be able to use sub domains to separate countries, you need to have a domain that doesn’t indicate a location, for example, .com, .net. .org are all suitable domains for using sub domains. The reason for this, is that a .co.uk targeting Germany is not going to rank.

You don’t often see sub domains used to separate countries anymore, but that’s more because of the current trend as opposed to the wrong approach to take. Sub domains will work well if you have separate installs for each country on each sub domain.

Examples of sub domains by country are:

  • uk.example.com – UK
  • de.example.com – Germany
  • es.example.com – Spain

If the reasons you have for using sub domains are valid ones, then it’s a choice that can work, however its not the choice I would recommend. This is due to the time it would take to manage separate sites on sub domains.

Sub Folders

Sub folders are the method of choice for most of the high profile multi-national brands; everyone from Samsung, to Apple, to Nike and more all use sub folders to separate out the various languages and markets for their website.

When you use the sub folders, you have the choice to separate them out by country e.g.

  • /uk/
  • /de/
  • /es/

or some webmasters go more granular and identify the country and the language that is being targeted e.g.

  • /en-gb/ – UK English
  • /de-de/ – German in Germany
  • /fr-ca/ – French Speaking Canadians

If you need to identify and target different speaking languages within the same country, then I would recommend the later structure.

HTML Lang Tag

In addition to the URL structure, developers can and should also use the Lang tag when building websites. Using a Lang tag indicates to Google the language of the page, which again is a further indication in the relevance of the website. You can also use language and country codes in the mark-up.

  • <html lang=”en-gb”> – UK English
  • <html lang=”de-de”> – German in Germany
  • <html lang=”fr-ca”> – French Canadian

HTML

Search Console

Another crucial step to geo-targeting your website is the geo-targeting tool in Google Search Console. As with all signal points, Google looks at it as a mere recommendation on where to rank your website and its not a strict instruction. However, I’m yet to see an example of Google ignoring or doing something different to what Google Search Console settings say.

However you choose to separate the language variations on your website, it’s vital that all variations are added to Webmaster Tools as a separate website. If you choose individual URLs, this is simple. If you choose sub domains, add each domain and again this is simple. If you split the site using sub folders, then add each sub folder separately e.g.

  • www.example.com/en-gb/
  • www.example.com/de-de/
  • www.example.com/fr-ca/

By adding each sub folder as a separate website, Google allows you to place settings on each sub folder; for example, www.example.com/de-de/ can have all the settings in place to tell Google that this sub folder of the website is relevant to the German search market.

This is a method we at Digital Next have used with current clients and it works well from a webmaster and SEO point of view.

Redirecting Users

Something that many websites do is to try and redirect a user to the relevant language of the website. This is done based on IP address and can be implemented on the server or at website level.

Redirecting the user isn’t something that we would generally recommend doing. We have seen issues in recent times when a website forcefully redirects a user, and as a result, rankings have been lost because when the redirects are put in place, no thought has been given to bots and crawlers that access your website.

At the moment, Googlebot is detected as an American user which means if you have a .co.uk website and you forcefully redirect American users to your .com website, then Google can no longer access the .co.uk domain and your website drops out of Google.

You could write rules that allows Googlebot into your website as a normal user, but if you redirect American users to the site and not Googlebot (who is an American user) then from a technical point of view, you are cloaking (showing Googlebot one thing and a human user something different).

Use Href Lang Mark-up

The href lang tags appear in the header of your website and simply indicate to Google which other country the page is available for, and what the URL of that page is. Google must see a return tag, so if you have a page in English and you tell Google that its also available in German, then they expect the German page to also indicate the page is available in English.

The code below is highlighting to Google that the webpage “english-uk-page” is also available for French speaking Canadians and Germans.

  • <link rel=”alternate” href=”http://example.com/english-uk-page” hreflang=”en-gb” />
  • <link rel=”alternate” href=”http://example.com/french-canadian-page” hreflang=”fr-ca” />
  • <link rel=”alternate” href=”http://example.com/german-page” hreflang=”de-de” />

This cross referencing of pages should appear on every page of your website that has an alternate language.

Language Selectors

Language selectors are a common method of directing users to the most relevant language of the website. Generally, at the top of the page language selectors will often use flags to indicate different languages. If a user on a website saw a list of flags on a website, most of the time, they would expect and presume that these were language selectors.

geo-targeting your website

Having a language selector like this will help Google understand that your website is relevant for many countries. It will also guide users to the correct version, if for some reason they entered the site through an incorrect language.

Restrict Delivery

If after all the above has been considered, you may still have people on your website that you don’t wish to sell to; for example, you may have a distributor in Germany, so its agreed you wont sell to German people from the UK website.

If this is the case, then simply restrict the postage options. This is a very simple task in most eCommerce systems.

Geo-targeting can be complex but if you have an idea of your end goal, a marketing agency such as ourselves are on hand to ensure it is implemented correctly. With so many factors to consider, it’s an important part of your website and not something that should be overlooked.

Putting together a brief, coming up with initial ideas and actually launching a new eCommerce store is never going to be a simple task for any company. There are a huge number of variables to take into account.

Cost

Recently I have had a lot of people coming to me and asking for ‘cost effective eCommerce solutions’. Most of these companies already have some form of eCommerce presence and are looking to either grow or improve their online store.

The true definition of cost effective is ‘effective or productive in relation to its cost’. That statement could be seen in a number of different lights, but the key word for me is ‘effective’. For a new online store to be effective, it must perform well and for an eCommerce store to perform well, it must be designed, developed and marketed to the highest level.

One thing I will say is, if you are looking to launch a new eCommerce business and you wish to ‘cut cost’, then I strongly recommend keeping that phrase well away from your new website project.

ecommerce websites

Picking the Right Platform

I have seen too many companies cut corners and go ahead with projects that are not only going to lack in longevity, but will eventually force the respective company to redevelop their site within 12 months of having it built.

Most businesses will have different eCommerce requirements. Some will be regional, some national, some international and even global. Payment gateways, shipping requirements, ePos integration and stock management requirements will all vary. Therefore, all of those variables, plus more, need to be taken into account when looking at building an online store.

For an eCommerce based business, your online store is your product. Without a comprehensive online store, you will never sell the volumes of products that you wish to sell, it’s as simple as that. The design and structure of the site must be right to ensure conversions and an enjoyable user experience, not to mention the quality of the site build to ensure it is prepared for a marketing strategy to be plugged in.

There are hundreds of platforms out there to choose from, all with different pros and cons, and with different functionality sets and capabilities.

ecommerce projects

Getting it Right

The only way you can achieve all of the above is by choosing the right agency or developers to work with. They need to understand your goals as a business and have a solid understanding of your industry, to ensure that your website performs optimally once launched. So, before choosing your next eCommerce move, think about the bigger picture; your website needs to be more than just a website. It needs to be the centre of your business and online strategy.

The planning, organisation and execution of a marketing strategy is not always such a straightforward process. However, there are literally tons of creative marketing tips to explore in order to generate more business for your company, without blowing up your entire marketing strategy.

Marketing Tips

Well, in this blog we have combined a list of marketing tips and ideas full of strategies that we have previously executed for ourselves or our clients for you to take note from. The marketing campaigns have been used to generate inbound leads and are taken from past techniques implemented in-house here at Digital Next.

Winter is slowly approaching, which can only mean one thing… There are only 20 weeks left before the big man comes down your chimney! This is the BIGGEST season for both shoppers and retail stores, which makes it a critical time to up your marketing game and stand out against your competitors during the holidays.

E-Commerce

Ensure your marketing efforts are on the mark this winter, particularly paying attention to huge retail dates such as Black Friday.

A brand who did this well in 2015 was O2 who went all in claiming “no price is safe” on Black Friday. The brand sold devices such as the HTC One M9, Samsung Galaxy S6 and Galaxy Tab S2 for as little as £1!

This could generate more traffic to your site just in time for Winter. The below marketing tips will help you optimise your online presence by focusing on the latest trends in online shopping.

Homepage Links

Homepage links may seem common knowledge to most, but it’s still a common omission from a lot of websites and it can be detrimental the overall experience of your customers.

It’s very important to ensure your homepage has links to product categories, and all deeper layers to your website. You should also be regularly creating content that caters to relevant keywords and is based around your products/services.

You should also ensure that each page has a unique page title that is 70 characters or less, and a meta description that’s 150 words or less; which basically outlines to Google what keyword you want the page to rank for.

Email Triggers

The dreaded three words: ‘out-of-stock’… We all fear seeing this when we’re trying to add products to our basket.

Instead of losing custom, add functionality by encouraging shoppers to submit their data. This can allow the user to be alerted when the items are back in stock.

If customers know they’ll eventually be able to get the item from you, it mitigates the possibility of losing them to the competition. You can also try suggesting similar items that are in stock to demonstrate that you’re business still remains able to understand and meet the needs of the customer.

Urban Outfitters automatically sends this email to users when they request to unsubscribe from their emails. The purpose of this automated email is a last-ditch effort to convince recipients not to unsubscribe. To appeal to their young adult target audience, this email creatively plays on the idea of a salvaging a relationship.

urban-outfitters-unsubscribe

This was an excellent method of engaging with their customers to show how valued they are to their business, and that they’re in touch with their target audience through means that they can relate to – on multiple levels.

Become A Google Trusted Store

Becoming a Google Trusted Store can help customers to recognise that you are both trusted and safe to shop with, but it’ll also help to increase the exposure of your brand.

Take the necessary steps to meet the correct requirements to do this; once you meet the criteria, you are given a badge that appears on Google Shopping.

This could also have a positive impact on your search rankings on Google in the future, as more and more alterations to the search listings become display oriented.

google-trusted-store-badge

Audits

Carrying out regular audits on your online store can help to identify places where you can improve the buyer journey.

Auditing your site can help to determine amends and changes to your current customer journey; starting with click through and bounce rates, to testing different landing pages in order to gauge with tweaks might improve results.

Items You Might Like

An ‘Items You Might Like’ section could encourage users to browse for longer on your website; adding photos or other relevant items to each product landing page could provide that item the customer may eventually choose to add to their basket.

Website Ideas:

When it comes to your website, there are tons of ways you are able to utilise, test and optimise your web pages to generate more, relevant traffic. Below are some tips to drive more online traffic to your business.

Pop-ups

Test pop-ups on your website with special offers; there’s so many different types of pop-ups you’re able to utilise on your online store. Some of my personal favourites are:

  • Multi Pop-Up – The website will launch multiple pop ups upon entering. Different techniques are used.
  • Come And Go – Pop-ups are launched upon entering and exiting.
  • Timed Pop-Up – Pop-ups are programmed to launch after a certain amount of time. Normally, 5 seconds.

Mobile

After the Mobile-geddon release in April 2015, Google made it clear anyone without a mobile optimised website would not reap the benefits of mobile optimised search in the future.

Google released a mobile-friendly test which means you’re able to ensure your website is Google-friendly.

Reviews

Consider starting a triggered email campaign that asks your past customers, who value your business, for online reviews.

This can work well in order to spark trust amongst your new audience, and is also a great way to enhance SEO. We advise Google Reviews and Trustpilot as great review tools.

dn reviews

A/B Test

A/B testing, a.k.a split testing, is comparing two versions of a web page or email campaign to see which one performs better.

The aim is to identify changes that increase the chance of what you want to happen, to happen!

CTAs

A big part of utilising your website is by ensuring you have the right CTAs (Call to actions) to help speed up and guide a user on its journey by providing them with targeted and relevant content by their stage in the buying cycle.

A great example of a website with compelling CTA’s is Evernote.

“Remember, Everything.”

The design on Evernote’s website makes it super simple for users to see quick benefits of using the app and how to actually sign up to use it.

Plus, the green color of the main and secondary CTA buttons is the same green as the headline and the Evernote logo, all of which jump off the page.

evernote-cta

Social Media Ideas:

You should already know the true value of using social media to expand your reach.

Keeping up with trends and constant changes within the social realm is incredibly important; it’s not enough to just follow the same old rules and tactics.

Below we have noted some tips and promotional tips for you to execute as part of your winter campaign.

Video Ads

We all read how video is the next BIG thing on everyone’s mind, and how it’s here to stay.

Once such benefit of video advertising, specifically on Facebook, is you don’t necessarily need to have a strong presence.

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Facebook Live

Facebook’s livestream is still a new concept which many brands aren’t utilising. Try using it, as Facebook’s algorithm ranks these higher than regular content!

live-android-screen

Social Influencers

Partnering with social media influencers, such as bloggers, celebrities and users with a excessive social media following can work wonders integrated into a social media campaign.

When it comes to making purchasing decisions, users look for endorsements on products from influencers and it’s great to generate that organic reach.

Targeted campaigns

There’s a wide range of different re-targeting campaigns that can leverage reach on your best performing offers and best selling products.

The tips we have given only scratch the surface of what ideas can be implemented as part of your seasonal campaigns.

If you’re looking for even more, in-depth marketing tips and ideas, take a look at our Digital Next blog.

You may think that setting up ecommerce websites is simple – all you have to do is search online for a design and hosting platform, sign up for a free trial, upload a few photos and a description per product, press publish and voila, an ecommerce website live on the web.

Alas an ecommerce website is not as simple as your standard blog website – there are additions and intricacies that need to be considered. Ecommerce means customers buying from you, it means processing payments safely and securely, along with accessing, using and storing customer data.

Before you reach this point, you need to attract attention to your website and entice people to buy. With consistent effort and an understanding of what drives ecommerce websites, you can have a vibrant and successful online business. Below are 4 mistakes commonly made on ecommerce websites:

Not Simple And Clear

It may sound slightly derogatory to think of your customers only needing a simple layout to your ecommerce website but the truth is that simplicity is strongly interlinked with buying psychology.

The customer wants to be able to navigate easily around an ecommerce website and they also want a payment process that is both secure and quick. This does not mean rushing someone into buying something, removing important steps such as reviewing their order and so on, it means offering a range of payment options that are known and trusted such as SagePay, ApplePay and PayPal etc. The process of buying needs to be clear, with defined steps that are not too cumbersome; neither should you have too many steps.

This simplicity and clarity applies to your whole site. There is no bigger turn off on an ecommerce website than a complex design, especially when combined with poor quality, low resolution product photos with minimal product descriptions that do nothing to entice your customer.

Not Optimised For The Customer

Just as the high street is a busy place, the online world of retail and ecommerce is even more competitive. Not only do you have competitors breathing down your neck with flash sales but you have search engines telling you what they do and do not like.

The icing on the cake is that you also need to appeal to your customers and for many failing ecommerce websites this is their big downfall.

First time visitors drive the majority of online conversions but these first time buyers are the most expensive acquisitions and those ecommerce sites that are failing are doing so because they are not encouraging repeat custom.

Essentially, an online website will work hard to snare a customer but don’t put in the same amount of effort to keep them. By looking at how larger brands do this, you can better understand how to effectively target your customers.

In most cases, it means capturing customer information, with the most basic being an email address so that you can offer discounts, notify them of upcoming sales and pre-sale events. This is a low cost form of advertising, made even better by the fact that you can personalise newsletter and emails to your customer.

Inaccurate Financial Analysis

New ecommerce websites usually trade at a loss initially until they reach economies of scale.

Even when they do have a glut of customers, new and returning ones, the finances are still under strain. There are many factors that nibble at the profit margin – inventories, payment gateway fees, postage and packaging, staff, advertising, fees for technological innovations to name but a few.

Unfortunately, a small business may work out their finances in the beginning and assume that the profit margin remains the same, only to find some weeks or possibly months later that they are making no money and still trading at a loss.

Accurate financial analysis should be something that an ecommerce business is constantly monitoring and calculating simply because the factors mentioned above are variable – they change all the time, sliding up and down the scale.

Unfortunately, coupled with this is the penchant to continually offer discounts and reductions in a misplaced effort to attract more customers. These events are not to be dismissed entirely but an ecommerce website should not be offering any kind of sale or reduction unless it has been accurately costed.

Not Being Transparent

People buy from websites they trust. But even big brands do things that annoy their customers which leads to all kinds of negative feedback and publicity.

Hidden extra costs or massive postage are two factors that will instantly annoy your customers. Take the costs that were, until recently, associated with cheaper airlines for example – buying your £20 air fare was all well and good but once check-in costs were added, along with fines for too-large cabin bags and suddenly your bargain airfare is a hell of a lot costlier. Customers were therefore annoyed and they felt duped. Being honest and fair in pricing policies is essential for any ecommerce website.

Work hard on the smaller details and your ecommerce website should fly!

First introduced in 2003 by founders Matt Mullenweg and Mike Little, WordPress has grown to become a name synonymous with website content management systems (CMS). As a free and open-source CMS, WordPress has proved over the past 13 years exactly why it now exists as the most popular blogging platform in use across the internet.

With the system installed on over 60 million websites, 26.4% of the top 10 million websites as of April 2016, and boasting a market share of 59.5%; it’s not difficult to see that WordPress really is the first (and only) choice of many. “But what makes WordPress so great, Tom?”, you may be wondering if you’re not necessarily well versed in content management systems. Well, hopefully this post will help you to understand exactly why so many people choose WordPress when it comes to blogging and content management.

Simplicity

The key to any successful tool, program or system is simplicity. Now although this might seem like I’m stating the obvious, it’s one of the fundamental principles of any successful blog page. To give a little more context; for webmasters, the admin area of a WordPress site is easily navigable for those that have some experience in website functionality; but for users, the blog and its entries must be structured with the user experience (UX) and journey in mind.

Keep things simple and empathise with the inexperienced internet user to ensure that your blog can be easily accessed and navigated through by a layman.

Configurability, usability and flexibility

The configurability and usability of the standard WordPress platform is instrumental in demonstrating how truly functional and unique it really is in comparison to other CMS platforms such as Drupal, Joomla or Magento. Whether you’re simply looking to edit posts, build the website structure, access robots.txt or htaccess files, or edit CSS to alter the design; WordPress offers a user-friendly and flexible experience that enables you to make changes to your site with ease. In addition to this, WordPress automatically codes a high majority of the plugins, themes, formatting, imagery and content that you add into the site, which saves a lot of time and resource.

Unmatched configurability, coupled with a highly user-friendly back end system and a simplistic approach to website management makes WordPress the most versatile CMS available (especially since it’s FREE!)

Plugins and Themes

Plugins and Themes are what makes WordPress so unique and powerful. In my opinion, this is my favourite facet of the entire CMS. Because the platform is open source this means that any member of the WordPress community has the ability to develop a plugin and release it to the digital landscape. However, in many cases, these plugins have been developed by credible and well-respected members of the WordPress community, and can be reviewed by users to improve trust.

It goes without saying that the functions of these plugins serve different purposes. However, from a blogging point of view, there are many notable tools that are essential for increasing online exposure of your content such as Google Analytics dashboard, Social Share buttons and Social Networks Auto Poster. Moreover, from an SEO point of view, nothing truly beats the SEO Yoast plugin, which really is the cream of the crop and an absolute essential for regular blogging.

Themes are another excellent feature of WordPress. Similar to plugins, many of the themes available in the WordPress directory have also been developed within the community and there is a myriad of styles available that are both paid and free, so you can have a fully-responsive and attractive looking site without needing to break the bank.

Useful plugins, attractive themes; the WordPress directory offers endless personalisation and appearance options to make your site look amazing and your life that little bit easier.

Multi-user & Multi-blogging

The final point that I’d like to make on this (if you’ve managed to make it this far, that is!) is that for larger organisations or businesses that value their content production, the ability to set up multiple users with different roles is ideal for promoting collaboration and learning. For instance, with us being a digital agency, many of our website’s regular users can seamlessly carry out work without any interference. However, one of the major benefits of this lies within content production.

Naturally, all businesses should outline a content strategy with which they plan to create and promote evergreen content pertaining to their products or services. As such, by creating a content calendar and assigning it to different members of your workforce, you can execute a multi-user, multi-blogging content strategy without anyone getting in each others way!

Blogging regularly? Then you really need to be using WordPress…

So, with all this and more, how could you possibly look beyond WordPress as the ideal choice of CMS for your website?

A strong digital marketing strategy can make or break the overall success of your business, so when thinking forwards into the next financial year, one element of your business plan which may cause some confusion is whether to outsource your marketing to an expert agency, or whether to alternatively invest into this area of your business with ‘in-house’ marketing.

Whilst there are benefits of each direction, it’s important to look at both sides of this argument before making such a huge decision. A successful digital marketing campaign takes not only the financial investment, but also the investment of resources and ability to use time efficiently.

Quality, Not Quantity

So there is that small voice in the back of your head thinking, ‘wait, I can pay someone the same amount as an agency and get 38 hours a week spent on my marketing strategy, why shouldn’t I do this?’ Ultimately, this is true. But let’s face it, there are many, many elements of a digital marketing plan… PR, social media channel management, SEO, content management, web development, PPC… And these are just the obvious ones!

Within an agency, there isn’t just one person taking care of all of the above, but a team who work together with vast amounts of varying talents and ideas to reach an outcome that will benefit your campaign. With more people, solutions are often found much faster than just one or two people working on your campaign and spreading themselves thinly across an array of digital marketing areas.

Stick to What You’re Good At

Hiring the perfect candidate to take on the challenge of heading your new and shiny digital marketing department is not an easy task. Not only do they have to have the passion to drive the campaign creatively, they have to have the experience to analyse the data collated, the writing skills to piece together every aspect of your copy (blog content, outreach content, SEO content, social content, web content… You get the gist?) and ultimately, the experience needed to manage every single digital marketing question which will pop up on a day-to-day basis.

Do they know how to set up a merchant centre data feed? How to implement a UA code on the backend of your website so that Google Analytics tracking works fully? How to source the correct audience for daily engagement on social media? How to reach out to webmasters and negotiate the price and terms for outreach content placement? You have to establish whether you have the resources to accomplish all of the above and do so successfully to justify your investment.

Evaluate The Risks

Ultimately, when trusting an agency with your digital marketing strategy, if things do not go as planned, you can assess the service you are receiving before deciding whether to continue with this strategy further when your terms of agreement have ended. With in-house staff, you have a responsibility to them as an employer which means that changes cannot be made overnight, and further training, means further investment… Often this training or support is sourced from an agency anyway, so unless this is your plan from the beginning, it could be a long time before you see strong results which properly reflect your investment.

Summary

There are thousands of small elements of digital marketing, that without the experience or training, are hard to comprehend and foresee. Investing into your in-house marketing is not a bad idea. If your company is doing well, an intern or assistant in this area could take some responsibility and work with an agency, acting almost as the ‘middle-man’. However, for SMEs this option is often money and time consuming with the results lacking the creative expertise and knowledge needed to strategise and implement ideas from start to finish. Ultimately, this is almost always reflected in the end result of campaigns and ongoing ROI.